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Aaron01

The Job Interview And Mental Health Stigma

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The dreaded job interview. That's tough enough for most. If coupled with a large employment gap due to Major Depressive Disorder, these waters now become very tough to navigate. Does honesty count(I'll explain/ask below)? Everywhere in the media these days we see initiatives that support the de-stigmatization of mental illness. Public figures pop out of the woodwork to share their personal struggles, and this is good. Increasing public awareness through celebrity is great. But we have a ways to go. Stigma is all too present in my life.

I've been off work for over two years due to the most severe depression I've had in the last 20. I'm happy to say that with a new course of medication and therapy, I'm nearing readiness to get back into the workforce. It's still very hard, but I have moments of hope again. That's huge for me.

So I'm now faced with the question, how honest can I be in a job interview?

I would love to state the truth to a potential employer... I was clinically depressed, I sought out help for it and as a result, I'm eager and able to contribute in the workforce again. Here's where I stumble.

Do I roll the dice and level with an employer(I'm not suggesting I would go into detail), or do I make up stories? When I brought this question to my therapist(s), they both thought exposing my prior struggles with mental health would be a poor move in a job interview. Even my therapists, though wanting to end the stigma, are perpetuating it. Recommending I hide this 'unsavory', yet all to real legitimate health struggle really angers me.

Who takes the bold step? Are we relying on celebrities alone? I hope not.

I am not a criminal. I'm like you. A really good person who's struggled with mental illness, for which I'm not ashamed.

Besides, if I take that big step of honesty(INTEGRITY) in an interview, and the person across the table squirms away in distaste, would that be a place I'd like to make a living? Not a chance in hell.

I'd love your input on this.

Aaron

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I appreciate the sensible advice R.K. A great many people equate depression as weakness or flawed character. As I'm sure you know, quite the contrary.

My question to you is would you admit to it? To be honest, I'm interested in a survey on this matter.

No one, I suspect, would feel ashamed to admit to any number of physical ailments.

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I would never never tell an employer the truth about things like that. Tell them you were physically injured, extremely ill with some communicable disease, tell them anything but that truth. Behind everyone's pretty words about not stigmitizing mental illness is the fact that the mentally ill are simply a lot less productive than those not afflicted. I think behind the BS smiles and meaningless pleasantries HR people & hiring managers are heartless & calculating and they know about the mental illness productivity gap and they know even if you're better now you're more likely to have a relapse into depression. I may be a bit biased since I lost a good job for being stupid enough to tell an employer this. I am of the opinion you can NEVER trust employers, coworkers, etc with that kind of information.

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I've never told an employer. I'd like to, to work with them to make it a better deal for both of us, but to be honest sometimes depression symptoms make me unreliable. I forget things, get confused about dates and times, I'm disorganised and sometimes I just don't get out of bed. So if you do decide to tell, you'll need to think carefully about the symptoms you have and downplay the effect they'll have in the work place. You can always be honest but vague, I've gone for that option a few times. Big hunking gap due to illness. That's the truth, they probably won't ask for details and if they do you can always tell them depression or you are allowed to say you want to keep it private. They're not allowed to discriminate against you because you were ill in the past. Or because you have depression, actually.

It's hard to know who to trust with this kind of information. Alpheus has obviously had a bad experience and there are going to be those experiences if you are honest. I think it's great that you want to do your bit to end the stigma, but remember that you have to live with the consequences of the decision you make and if you don't think you'll be strong enough to deal with them it might be better for you not to go down that road. There are always ways to help which are less sacrificial.

I apply for jobs in industries with high turn over, poor pay and unqualified because of how unqualified and inexperienced I am. If you are entering into this kind of work place, don't tell. It's unlikely you'll be there for long and it's simpler for the employer not to give you a job because there are always a lot of applications, and next month there'll be hundreds more. It makes no sense for them to give you a chance. If, however, you're looking for something that you're a great candidate for and that you'll be in for a long term position and you'll be working with these people for years and years, it might be an idea to consider telling. At least that you have had an illness.

I considered telling my boss just earlier this week, but I have decided not to. I'm going to tell them about my insomnia and that I'm being treated for it and not mention the depression. Like I said, high turn over, short term, symptoms make me unreliable. They don't need to know. sometimes, they just don't need to know.

There are lots of things to consider. I'd be very, very wary of going to a job interview and telling them.

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Very interesting, and valid pov's. Thanks for going a bit further into your explanation. I can relate.

This is a condition that is one of the leading causes of disability, yet there remains an unspoken need to keep it hidden at all cost.

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My friend worked in HR and often told me stories that left me reeling. Although they smile and outwordly can never admit to turning people away because of a mental illness like depression, the truth is that you are unlikely to ever get a callback. Yes, you can take that step and be honest if that is how you feel, but I think if you want to actually get a job, the reality is that employers neither understand nor want to understand anything beyond profit. The more likely result is that they will assume you will be calling in sick all the time and using your illness as an excuse for not pulling your weight.

It's bulls***, but it's what most will think, unless you luck out and get someone who has personally been through it or knows someone close who has.

If you are up to it though, you can always try to do both, go to interviews with companies you are not really interested in working for and tell them the truth and see how many offer a job. If you can afford the time.

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And if I had just been as shrewd & calculating as they were I may have been able to sue those cockroaches for discrimination, but no stupid me just gets flustered and tells the truth in hopes they'll stop badgering me. Those execrable vermin even got me to sign a paper that waived my right to seek legal recourse and still I didn't see it coming. That's what I get for not assuming the worst. I'm so ******* stupid.

Edited by alpheus

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I would never never tell an employer the truth about things like that. Tell them you were physically injured, extremely ill with some communicable disease, tell them anything but that truth. Behind everyone's pretty words about not stigmitizing mental illness is the fact that the mentally ill are simply a lot less productive than those not afflicted. I think behind the BS smiles and meaningless pleasantries HR people & hiring managers are heartless & calculating and they know about the mental illness productivity gap and they know even if you're better now you're more likely to have a relapse into depression. I may be a bit biased since I lost a good job for being stupid enough to tell an employer this. I am of the opinion you can NEVER trust employers, coworkers, etc with that kind of information.

I have to agree 100% as I've found out the hard way that if you reviel anything about a mental weakness , the employer

thinks they just bought a horse with a bad leg. They may say they understand but not really.

Don't tell them a thing and try your best to tough it out.

Good Luck

Edited by C George

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Unfortunately, I don't have anything constructive to say, being unfamiliar with the situation in your country. All I can say is that I definitely sympathise. Mental health stigma and very real prospect of becoming unemployable is why I do not seek diagnosis or therapy.

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I work in the healthcare industry and learned to never bring up this information. When asked about the time off I would keep it general, health issues that have been resolved. If you wouldn't share this info to a stranger on the street why do it for another stranger interviewing you? Focus on your strengths and steer clear of any type of conversation to dig into any weakness. You are selling your ability to do a good job, and not define yourself as your depression. Just how I've seen it with my job.

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I also work in the health care field and never tell anyone about my depression.

Unfortunately a lot of people don't understand mental illness and will hold it against you.

If I'm productive and doing a good job, my employer doesn't need to know about m y personal life.

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I think about all the things it affects..... so no I wouldn't be planning to tell an employer during the interview, but you may have no choice if you make it to a medical, or you need to make a declaration for the insurance company etc. I think at that point you could be considered to have been selected for the job, and thus if you were subsequently rejected by the medical on mental health grounds, then I think you would probably be able to claim discrimination. Very interesting question, you really are screwed if you lie and screwed if you tell the truth. If you do not need to pass a medical or start the insurance program then don't say a thing unless directly asked, i.e. dont lie, but don't be overly forthcoming with the truth. if you lie during the interview and it is proven, you're fired.

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